Gill made it to Lagos, very late on the 11th July and we sailed for the island of Santa Maria in the eastern Azores as early as we could next morning – which wasn’t terribly early as we had to wait for the marina office to open so they could raise the footbridge. We were sailing rather than motoring in no time at all and for a while even managed to sail the course we wanted.
Once past Cape St Vincent that all changed and we started getting pushed too far south, although over such a long journey I wasn’t too concerned, we were getting west which was the main thing. Originally we sailed with genoa, staysail and mizzen, but that soon reduced to staysail and mizzen and then when things got really rough to just the staysail. This meant we held our course less well even than before but I deemed it safer and was considering just running before the wind in survival mode. However we hung on as best we could although a few waves did force themselves over even our high sided wheelhouse and inside – I hate that. Gill reckons all boats have water inside them but it offends my sensibilities I like the water on the outside! I particularly don’t like wet clothes and wet bedding, plus when salt water dries out it leaves the salt behind and that attracts moisture from the atmosphere so the fabric is never truly dry. Still, we got the mass of it pumped out OK.
During the first evening of this latest voyage, when sailing with just the staysail in terribly rough water we had to avoid no fewer than five big ships in quick succession, crossing our track and no consideration shown by them whatsoever. We don’t carry AIS but as a steel boat I’m sure we show up on their radar, not to mention we were in close visual proximity! Do they keep an adequate watch, or just have no concern for human life – I don’t know. I’m sure AIS which gives you their details so you can call them by name on the VHF radio makes a big difference. I have had much better experiences with big ships in the past though. Indeed when crossing the North Sea another yacht went missing and a large ship approached to ask if we were the missing yacht – very considerate indeed. I also well remember taking avoiding action when confronted with a big ship called Three Lochs, but actually the Italian captain wanted to get close for a look at me! He came on the radio and wanted to know why my yacht had an Italian name and all about my voyage – lovely man.
The second two days of this trip were uncomfortable but fast sailing, the next four were comfortable but less fast and the final twenty four hours we motored. We logged eight hundred and fourteen point seven miles, but probably did a few more as I didn’t keep the GPS on the whole time to save battery power and it will have missed some of our meanderings when the wind was less than ideal, logging a straight line from the last point whenever it was switched back on.
We’re now in Santa Maria which is lovely, however it’s been far too hot for a northern European like me, despite all the years I’ve been travelling I have never become used to real heat from the sun. Then last night we had a downpour that’s prevented me doing rust treatment or paint for the foreseeable. Sun’s coming out agaion as I write this, so maybe all will be dry in no time. Martin Shead, my buddy from NZ should join us for some island hopping on the 2nd August and I hope to sail for the Isles Of Scilly around the 16th, that will be the longest solo leg yet unless someone wants to join me – Gill and Martin will be returning to their respective homes.
More another time. Tis the season for Sperm Whales here so here’s hoping we see some.